President William Ruto is currently in the United States, participating in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) meetings. He is leading Kenya’s delegation at the 77th assembly, marking his second attendance since assuming the role of Head of State in 2022.
To clarify, the UNGA has no connection to our local staple “unga” (maize flour), and President Ruto’s presence there is unrelated to any efforts to procure “unga.” Nonetheless, based on the discussions he’s had on the sidelines of the UNGA meetings, he may potentially secure some support or commitments related to “unga.”
The State House Spokesperson, Hussein Mohamed, stated that President Ruto’s trip to New York for the UNGA meeting spans ten days. President Ruto arrived well in advance and used this time to engage with Kenyan residents and professionals in the U.S.
His trip has been quite busy and fruitful, as he actively sought to attract investments into Kenya and engage with Kenyan expatriates living and working in the United States.
Earlier in the week, President Ruto inaugurated a Kenyan-themed restaurant named “Swahili Village” in the heart of New York. This establishment, managed by a Kenyan entrepreneur, primarily offers Kenyan cuisine among other options. The President commended the proprietor, Kevin Onyoni, for his contributions to Kenya’s reputation.
During his visit to Silicon Valley in California, President Ruto aimed to present Kenya as an attractive destination for American technology companies to establish manufacturing operations and regional offices. He assured these firms of a favorable investment environment and addressed any concerns they may have.
Prominent CEOs, including Tim Cook (Apple), Patrick Gelsinger (Intel), Ruth Porat (Google’s CFO – Alphabet), Brad Smith (Microsoft COO), and executives from companies like Nike, GAP, and Levi Strauss, attended the meeting. They expressed positive interest in investing in Kenya, citing its appealing return on investment and potential for American venture capital.
Google committed to investing USD 1 billion in Africa, with Kenya receiving a share to bolster digital training and innovation initiatives. Visa also chose Kenya as the location for its global digital innovation studio as part of a USD 1 billion investment plan in Africa.
In another development, President Ruto signed an $8.7 billion deal with the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to acquire electric buses for Nairobi Metro Area, aiming to alleviate traffic congestion.
President Ruto met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to express Kenya’s support during the ongoing conflict with Russia. They discussed potential collaboration, including the establishment of Ukrainian grain hubs in Kenya.
The President held meetings with various world leaders, exploring areas of cooperation such as trade, green energy, food security, healthcare, and professional knowledge exchange.
In discussions with World Bank President Ajay Banga, President Ruto emphasized the importance of the World Bank’s support in realizing the Nairobi Declaration on climate change in 2023.
Furthermore, Kenya established diplomatic relations with Haiti during the UNGA meeting, with the possibility of Kenya leading a United Nations-backed multinational security force to address rising gang violence in Haiti. President Ruto received praise from U.S. President Biden for Kenya’s commitment to this mission, aimed at improving security in Haiti.